Among the many known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, there are those which we can control and those which we cannot. For example, genetic factors are beyond our control, diet is within it.
There are numerous studies detailing the links between Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and family history. Many of these studies have demonstrated that the extent of these risk factors can be used to determine the approximate increase in the percentage of an individual’s risk of Alzheimer’s. Having multiple illnesses obviously compounds this risk.
Recently, a detailed study of psychological factors and their effect on Alzheimer’s disease was conducted by Dr. Sabrina Islmoska, of the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. More specifically, she set out to determine the link between “vital exhaustion” and Alzheimer’s disease. The term vital exhaustion is used to describe a state of psychological distress, which typically exhibits symptoms such as irritability, fatigue, demoralization and depression. Dr. Islmoska and her colleagues published their study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Previous studies have shown that vital exhaustion raises the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and premature death, among other conditions. The risks were highest in individuals who were exposed to stress for a prolonged period of time.
The research team analyzed data from approximately 7000 individuals who participated in the Copenhagen City Heart Study between 1991 and 1994. All the participants were approximately 60 years old at the time the study began. The researchers continued to analyze the participants, both physically and psychologically until the end of 2016.
The results of their study showed a clear link between vital exhaustion in midlife and the development of Alzheimer’s disease later in life. According to Dr. Islmoska: “Participants reporting 5 to 9 symptoms [of vital exhaustion] had a 25% higher risk of dementia than those with no symptoms, while those reporting 10 to 17 symptoms had a 40% higher risk of dementia compared with having no symptoms.”
A striking finding was that even a 20-year gap between vital exhaustion and a diagnosis of dementia was statistically significant. The researcher’s conclusion, and one we can all take to heart, is that addressing psychological risk factors such as anxiety and depression can significantly lower our risk of Alzheimer’s disease as well as contribute to our overall sense of well-being.
At Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, we are experts in handling all levels of cognitive impairment, from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
We have created a unique environment and care program specifically designed to address the needs of this population. Our Alzheimer’s Unit is situated in a separate, secure wing to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents. It offers a structured daily routine, mind-stimulating activities, excellent social interaction, with optimal patient independence in a calm and soothing atmosphere.
Moreover, all our care programs are designed specifically to meet the unique needs and interests of seniors and long-term care patients. We emphasize restorative care, maximizing each patient’s potential to regain and maintain function and mobility.
We foster an environment that is cheerful and enthusiastic, so residents truly relish and appreciate life.
Our outstanding Social Services team works hard to ensure that every resident thrives socially, emotionally, and spiritually.
We promote a culture of independence, crucial for emotional, social, and physical health. Residents are encouraged to choose their activity and meal preferences, and to perform tasks and activities as self-sufficiently as possible.
We carefully select, train and re-train our wonderful caregivers, who are especially sensitive to the needs of our long-term care patients. They treat residents with love, compassion, and dignity.
Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 609-588-5800 or by clicking here.